Moss goes airborne


Published: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 5:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 5:32 p.m.

The Steve Spurrier years were primarily years of successes and blowouts, of games over by halftime. Spurrier’s final season put his trademark offensive dominance on full display, with Rex Grossman & Co. steamrolling most of the SEC, putting up 50, 60 and even more than 70 points up in games.

When Ron Zook replaced Spurrier, he also replaced the style of game the Gators played. Often the Gators would be playing tight games with an emphasis on running and short passing. Defense was supposed to be a strength, but often it was the defense that failed the team and fourth quarter meltdowns were frequent.

Fans clamored for a return to Spurrier’s style, but new coach Urban Meyer has not really delivered the type of blowouts the Gator faithful got accustomed to with Spurrier. In fact, Meyer had a knack for close games, too, but the Gators usually won them.

One exception in Meyer’s first year was his matchup against South Carolina and Spurrier, where the Gators fell in a close game because Meyer’s esteemed-but-modified spread option offense was unable to bring the Gators back.

The loss ruined a shot at the SEC Championship Game for the Gators.

It almost happened again in 2006.

Defensive end Jarvis Moss leaped into the air and blocked USC kicker Ryan Succop's 47-yard, game-deciding field goal attempt with his right palm to give the then No. 6 Gators a heart-pounding 17-16 victory over South Carolina .

"That was a great ending," Meyer said.

The dramatic block sent a sold out Swamp into a frenzy and moved the Eastern Division champion Gators to 9-1 on the season.

There is no question that the block was the momentum-shifter for the season. The game that turned the Florida Gators from a good 9-3 team to SEC champions with a chance for the national title.

Even after the game, Moss expressed his belief that 2006 is, in fact, the Year of the Gator.

"There is no question in my mind we're going to end up in Arizona," Moss said.

For sure, all the orange and blue karma is good coming out of this victory.

Moss not only blocked the final kick, he blocked Succop's extra-point attempt earlier in the fourth quarter that kept the Gators within six, 16-10.

But it was Moss’ final contribution to the game, a play that seemed so improbably while most of The Swamp waited solemnly for the inevitable, that will secure a place in history for this team.

That Moss got all 6’6” of him into the air for one last play is one of the biggest reasons the Gators have a chance at the national title tonight.

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